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Deeds: Kill the Court of Appeals

Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath Co., has introduced a bill to abolish the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Senate Bill 630 would simply do away with Virginia’s 28-year-old intermediate appellate court effective Oct. 1, restoring the Supreme Court’s authority to hear criminal, traffic, domestic and administrative appeals.

The judges of the Court of Appeals would remain in office through the end of their terms, with salaries, but it’s not clear what they would do after October.

Deeds says the idea is just to save money – at least $8 million a year, he says. “It’s about getting the most bang for our buck,” he said.

Deeds said when the state is cutting services to children the judiciary ought not be immune from the budget ax. He denied any animosity for the court. “I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said few of the Court of Appeals judges had experience in criminal, domestic or workers compensation practice before going on the bench. “We’ve used the court as a place to reward folks,” he said.

Deeds disavowed any support from other quarters. “This is my idea,” he said.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Courts committee.

Deeds’ is the second legislative proposal to address the Court of Appeals. The other measure moves in the opposite direction, seeking to give the appeals court more authority. House Joint Resolution 111, introduced by Del. Sal Iaquinto, R-Virginia Beach, would authorize a study of whether to expand the jurisdiction of the appellate court. That proposal has been assigned to a House Rules subcommittee.

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